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Executive Director

Company Defy Ventures
Location Denver, CO
Update 8 Day ago
Executive Director, Colorado

Location: Denver

You are eager to join Defy as our Executive Director in Colorado working to develop and execute strategies that achieve aggressive fundraising goals and facilitate ambitious growth. You are an experienced, resourceful, and strategic startup leader, with proven skills to cultivate local individual, foundation, and corporate support as an effective pipeline to sustained growth. You are capable of leading the continued evolution of Defy’s life transforming work in Colorado. You are dynamic, entrepreneurial, and relational, and are most satisfied when your work has deep, meaningful impact.

We look for the following when evaluating new teammates

  • Culture fit: we have a spirited/ambitious/fun culture that is passionate about redeeming lives and restoring communities. We strive to display heart, empathy, and resolve in our daily interactions with one another.
  • Organizational prowess: You are a strong project manager, capable of driving multiple work streams and stakeholders toward deadlines and juggling priorities in a dynamic environment.
You will be entrusted with your own share of massive responsibility.

You will have the support of teammates who look out for you and want you to succeed.

You will make a difference in the lives of America’s biggest underdogs.

Although Defy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we take pride in our application of corporate best practices and operate as a lean, results-oriented startup. This high-impact opportunity is perfectly suited for a professional looking to transition out of the corporate world. Many of our most successful employees come from for-profit backgrounds.


  • In coordination with the National Development Team, play the role in the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of major gifts with individual, foundation, and corporate donors in Colorado
  • Create and execute a Colorado board development strategy focused on identifying, recruiting, and managing a 10-15 member high-profile, engaged, and high-performing board of directors that is focused on fund development
  • Build and maintain an evolving funder pipeline focused on growth, sustainability, and opportunity
  • Ensure best practice use of analytics, data, and metrics to track progress and success of fundraising strategies and tactics
  • Raise Defy’s profile through marketing, speaking engagements, and one-on-one networking with key stakeholders, media outlets and the general public to engage prospective volunteers, donors, employers, and clients (whom Defy calls Entrepreneurs-in-Training, or EITs)
  • Lead program related events both in prisons and in the community with inspirational leadership that motivates EITs, volunteers and donors
  • Engage CEOs, VCs, entrepreneurs, and other business professionals in Defy’s program activities as business pitch competition judges, mentors, volunteers, and donors
  • Oversee and expand Colorado’s program activities while meeting operational benchmarks, timelines, and ensuring availability of resources needed to achieve consistent, quality results
  • With the program team, identify and establish partnerships with providers of transitional services to source EITs for Defy’s program in Colorado
  • Cultivate relationships with employers who will provide career opportunities to EITs
  • Partner with the National Leadership Team to define and execute the strategic vision and long-term program development for Colorado that aligns with the values and mission of Defy
  • Contribute to the budget development process by planning and projecting staffing and resource needs, and manage Defy’s annual budget for Colorado
  • Help build and lead Defy’s team in Colorado

  • Proven track record of fundraising/sales and initiating, cultivating, and managing relationships with key constituencies, including familiarity with corporations, foundations, and community-based organizations; strong business sense required
  • Outstanding communication skills, with the ability to build, cultivate and leverage personal and professional networks and relationships, develop and deliver successful presentations, and collaborate and negotiate effectively
  • Superb organizational skills, with the proven ability to create and implement efficient operational systems, plan strategically, allocate work, set and manage objectives, analyze and mitigate risk, and create and manage projects
  • Proven success in recruiting, managing, and developing a strong team; capacity to enforce accountability, develop and empower leaders from the bottom up, cultivate entrepreneurship, and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the team so as to put people in a position to succeed
  • Excellent judgment and strong decision-making ability; able to act and react as necessary, even if limited information is available; not afraid to take charge of a situation; can overcome resistance to leadership and take unpopular stands when necessary
  • Passion, humility, integrity, positive attitude, emotional intelligence, mission-driven, and self-directed
  • Adaptable and reliable in conflict or crisis
  • Bachelor's degree from a four-year college or university required; master's degree or commensurate experience preferred
About Defy Ventures

Defy’s long-term goal is to put itself out of business by ending mass incarceration. We are crazy driven to level the playing field and bring redemptive opportunities to America’s biggest underdogs. Our hatred of injustice fuels our impatience. We plan to serve 10,000+ incarcerated men, women, and youth in the next three years and scale to 21 new chapters within six years.

America is touted as the land of opportunity and second chances—a land of liberty and justice for all. But this isn’t the case for the 100 million Americans with criminal records, who remain permanently stigmatized. Today, 30% of 23-year-olds have records.

Defy Ventures is a national entrepreneurship, employment, and character training program that recognizes the potential in many former drug dealers and gang leaders to become successful, legal entrepreneurs. We “transform the hustle” of our formerly incarcerated Entrepreneurs in Training (EITs) by offering intensive leadership development, Shark Tank-style business plan competitions, executive mentoring, financial investment, and startup incubation. We build a life-giving, authentic community between EITs and our executive volunteers, who bond in their humanity through their collaboration along the entrepreneurial journey.

Leveraging technology, we’ve created a “blended learning” model that has the potential to scale globally and revitalize the most underserved communities. We combine online training with in-person mentoring and events.

Since being founded in 2010, Defy has served 3,600 EITs across 22 states and engaged 4,400 executive volunteers. Defy has incubated 170 of its graduates’ companies, which in turn have created more than 350 employment opportunities for people in their communities. Grads report a 95% employment rate, and Defy’s recidivism rate to date is less than 5%. (Nationally, 76.6% of people are rearrested within five years of release).

Defy has earned the trust of funders like Techstars Foundation, Google, eBay, TD Bank, Capital One, Bloomberg, LinkedIn, Yelp, and American Express. Defy was also awarded the MDC Partners Humanitarian Award and has been showcased in national media including The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times ( ), ( ), The Harvard Business Review ( ), and Tech Crunch ( ).

Defy’s founder and CEO, Catherine Hoke, is an Ashoka Fellow, and was named by Fast Company as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. She was awarded by WIRED Magazine and Nokia as one of the “Top 17 Global Influencers Expanding Human Possibility Through Technology,” and received the MDC Partners Humanitarian Award.

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